Our Wars of the Roses games continue with another scenario we played lately. The narrative starting point went like this:
“Scouts have discovered a decrepit bridge over a river that, after several days of hard rain, is in flood. Both Lancastarians and Yorkists want to secure the river crossing for their supply lines. To the east of the bridge, where the river is traversing craggy hills, there is a ford. However, due to the high waters it will be difficult to negotiate. The river itself, though looking calm, is deep and swift-flowing. Men trying to cross it will be in grave danger of drowning.”
Again, I have put a detailed scenario outline in the resources section.
This time, we started the game on blinds. The Lancastarians were played by K. and entered from the northern edge of the table while the Yorkists, played by myself, came from the south. In the first two turns we both manoeuvered our blinds towards the river. Mutual spotting led to most of them being unveiled pretty soon. We both had sent one unit of archers and one of billmen to secure the ford, while the rest of the troops moved towards the bridge. The Yorkists kept one blind behind the hill as a reserve.
As usual, the fighting started with an archery duel. At the bridge, however, the Lancastarians soon took the initiative and moved their men-at-arms over to the other side, where they clashed with the Yorkist archers. Those managed to repulse them but the men-at-arms still had achieved to secure the bridge and to cover their own archers, which moved over behind them. Hastily, the Yorkists threw their forces into the fight and a chaotic series of melees followed.
The first casualties of the brutal hand-to-hand fighting were the Lancastarian men-at-arms, whose last man standing turned tails never to be seen again. The rest of the Lancastarians however managed to hold the bridge and even push the Yorkists back.
Unfortunately, things weren’t running better for the Yorkist forces at the ford. After a cautious wading through the water, which was accompanied by the archers shooting arrows at the Lancastarians standing on the hill, the Yorkist billmen suddenly rushed passed the archers and charged their enemy counterparts. Although their target had been softened up by archery the attackers were at a disadvantage fighting uphill. This, however, is no excuse for the debacle that followed: After a brief melee, the billmen were repulsed with heavy losses mainly in nerves and routed.
Desperate, the Yorkist commander activated his reserve, which consisted of a group of billmen. But again he had underestimated the quick thinking of his Lancastarian counterpart who swiftly took command of his own billmen and led them to counter the thread. Another melee and the Yorkists were pushed back.
There was nothing left they could do to avert defeat: One group of Lancastarian archers was firmly lodged in the swamp, their billmen were guarding the bridge and their archers on the hill had even managed to break the remainder of the Yorkist right flank. Another triumph for the loyalists!
Well, after our games of SAGA I should have known better than to take on K. at a river crossing scenario. This was an even worse defeat than the last one. K. seems to own the game by now: She gracefully moves with the chaotic flow of the card activations and has a far better grasp on managing command and control than I have. Looking back, I can see some of the mistakes I have made – for example, charging my billmen uphill without being led by my Status III Big Men was foolhardy to say the least.
Nevertheless it was a great game and plenty of fun was had by both of us! We agreed that we liked blinds as they speed up deployment and add a dimension of deception, so we will be using them again (if it fits the scenario). Also, we seem to have settled at a playing time of about three hours, which is ok. I for myself have to say I really enjoy writing scenarios for the game – the rules offer enough freedom to pose interesting problems and cover a great variety of situations. I’ll keep you posted on our next foray into the Wars of the Roses!